Have you ever received a bad review and panicked? Unsure of how to deal with your company’s online reputation after a few unsatisfied customers? Trust us, we’ve been there.
It happens to most small businesses. However, not everyone is aware of how reviews and reputation management factor into your overall online marketing strategy and what role reputation management plays on your SEO.
In this post, we break down the impact of reputation management on SEO. We also go over how it affects sales, leads, and organic traffic. The good news is that bad reviews are not the end of the world. There is a lot that we can learn if we know how to deal with them effectively.
An overwhelming amount of bad reviews can affect your rankings. A few bad reviews aren’t bad. Google understands that some bad reviews are normal. It only starts to become an issue if your site or brand has predominantly bad reviews and a poor reputation.
This is a rare occurrence and hopefully won’t happen with your brand! However, it’s still important to monitor in case you find yourself in a PR crisis. You can find yourself drowning in negativity depending on the severity of the crisis.
For example, the search results for your branded keywords can get flooded with bad press and push down your actual content. Similarly, your Google Ads and carefully-crafted SEO posts may not matter if your customers are already turned off by your poor reputation.
Even though a few bad reviews won’t directly impact your site’s ranking, this doesn’t give you free rein to ignore them. In fact, Google says that managing and responding to reviews can improve your Google My Business (GMB) listing ranking.
Your GMB listing shows up both in Google search results and in Google Maps. This is one of the first times a potential customer can encounter your brand.
A survey from Bizrate Insights found that 32% of consumers say a high review or score rating impacts their decision to make a purchase. They also found that 31% of consumers read between 4-6 reviews before making a decision to purchase.
A poor overall rating and a flurry of unanswered bad reviews can turn away your potential customers. Regularly responding to reviews sends positive signals to Google while also easing concerns from current and potential customers.
Although Google reviews are important, reviews and profiles on other sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Thumbtack should also be on your radar. Many customers use those sites to decide whether they want to work with you or buy from you.
A lot of bad reviews aren’t good. However, there are actually quite a few surprising things that can result from a bad review. According to this report on online reviews:
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- Companies with very low to non-existent response rates make about 9 percent less than average
- Companies with 15 to 20 percent negative reviews bring in more annual revenue than other companies with fewer reviews
- A rating between 3.5 to 4.5 brings more revenue on average than any other rating
Bad reviews are not only something to expect from time to time but that they can also—believe it or not—help boost your sales. It all boils down to how you deal with bad reviews.
Learn Reputation Management SEO Strategies. How To Deal With Bad Reviews?
Ultimately, responses to bad reviews should be made quickly, beginning and ending with an apology, and demonstrate a balance between taking professional accountability and outlining a clear solution. Follow these steps below to effectively address poor reviews and feedback on any site.
As soon as you have the opportunity to respond, don’t waste any time and get right to it. Responding in a timely manner is the first step to tackling a bad review. It shows the disgruntled customer, and any potential new ones, that you are quick to tend to any concerns about the quality of your product or service.
Designate a person or small task force on your staff to go through reviews. This way you can ensure that every review, especially the not-so-good ones, is addressed promptly.
On the other hand, be careful about having too many people handling responses. This can leave room for a lack of clarity and accountability on who should do what. Having a small team of one or two people, with clear instructions of what to say, is the best way to make sure reputation management remains under control.
Customers can sometimes leave nasty reviews that are not the whole truth. It’s not always easy to come from a calm and collected place when you feel like your business was unfairly treated or after seeing sales take a hit. This is why it is so crucial not to respond until you feel ready.
There is no rush to respond, especially if you feel like you might risk compromising your company’s image with an aggressive tone. Take a few deep breaths, go for a five minute walk, drink some water, or do whatever you can do in order to cool down. Then, come back and respond professionally.
Your message should always start and end with an apology. Apologies demonstrate empathy with your customer. It also gives you the opportunity to connect by acknowledging their frustrations and what went wrong.
Apologies are also a way to start a conversation on what you intend on doing. This allows you to acknowledge what happened. It’s also your opportunity to explain this was a breach of your standards and not the norm.
Leave your contact information along with a message to invite the customer to talk to you offline. This way, you can provide them with a refund, gift card, or any sort of compensation to indicate how sorry you are for what happened to them.
This shows both the upset customer—and any new ones who might be eyeing your reviews— that you are committed to making sure everyone is happy.
You can use reviews, both good and bad, as part of your strategy to address your customer’s needs. One highly effective SEO tactic is to use customer-focused content to improve growth.
Reviews give you a better idea of what your customers want. Use this as an opportunity to tailor your message to the issues raised by customers. You can write a blog post highlighting a little-known feature or use it as an opportunity to go live on Instagram and address common questions and concerns.
Looking through your reviews is also a great resource to discover topics to write about on your website’s blog. Using a bad review, and spinning it into a story with a positive ending, can become a great resource to link back to when responding to new customers.
For more tips and strategies on how to leverage your business challenges for SEO, check out these helpful SEO resources.
Other Strategies To Improve Reputation Management For Online Marketing & SEO
Reviews are just one part of your online reputation management plan. There are a few other areas you can focus on to improve your online reputation. Take a look at some of these ideas.
- Social media: Pay attention to what people are saying on your accounts and respond promptly to questions and concerns. Keep all of your profiles active and up to date.
- Third-party profiles: Optimize and manage profiles, reviews, and comments on relevant sites outside of Facebook, Yelp, and Google.
- Authority: Include information on your website that explains your credibility and authority in your brand’s industry. This gives potential customers insight into your background. It can also give you a boost in rankings if you follow Google’s EAT (expertise, authority, and trust) guidelines.
- Alerts: Set up Google Alerts and similar notifications to stay on top of your brand mentions.
- Images: Optimize your images with descriptive file names and alt text so they can show up higher in Google Images
- Content: Continue optimizing your pages, especially important ones like your about us or company history page.
- PR: If you’re battling a serious PR crisis that’s impacting traffic, SEO, and leads, execute your crisis communication plan to take control of the situation. Put one together now if you don’t already have one.
These are a lot of things to tackle at once. If you’re a small business looking for step-by-step tips, check out our guide to local SEO. We’ll show you how you can improve your online reputation management while also increasing conversions on your website.
Bio: Kristina is the director of small business acquisition at Womply, a fast-growing software company helping small businesses thrive. She has more than ten years of experience growing businesses of all sizes with data-driven marketing strategies. Prior to joining Womply, she led multiple initiatives to grow users, improve data collection, and partnered with leaders in the industry to improve customer and advertiser experiences.